Moriah, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb

Chapter 6. The Resurrection Morning - Part B

Meanwhile, the women who stayed at the Tomb, went into the Tomb to investigate it, and they met the angel sitting inside the Tomb!

Matthew 28:5-8“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. HE IS NOT HERE; for HE IS RISEN, as He said. Come, SEE the PLACE WHERE the LORD LAY. 
And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” 
So they WENT OUT quickly FROM the TOMB with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”





Mark 16:5-8 records the same event: 

“ENTERING the TOMB, they SAW a young man clothed in a long white robe SITTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE; and they were alarmed.” But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. HE is RISEN! He is NOT HERE. SEE the PLACE WHERE they LAID Him. But go, tell His disciples, and Peter, that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they WENT OUT quickly and fled FROM the TOMB, for they trembled and were amazed. And they (initially) said nothing to anyone (on route to Peter), for they were afraid.”

These passages give us some very specific information about the Tomb, which shows that it was not entirely typical for its time. Mark 16:5 says that as they entered they saw the angel (who looked like a young man) “SITTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE.” This is a very significant statement, for it reveals the layout of the Tomb, a layout that is unusual for a First Century Tomb. Normally, you would walk through the entrance into the Weeping Chamber, and then you would go down further into the Grave area, which would straight ahead, just as with Lazarus's tomb in Bethany, but in this case, the angel, who was sitting by the Place where Jesus was laid, was on the right hand side, as they entered through the Doorway into the Weeping Chamber. It was only because of this arrangement that later on from the door, John could see the grave-clothes where He lay. 

Amazingly, this agrees perfectly with the layout of the Garden Tomb (see the Plan below and pictures of the inside on pages 149 and 150). When you walk inside, you enter a large Weeping Chamber. Page 149 shows the view from the Weeping Chamber to where Christ was buried, on the right. Page 150 shows the view looking from the Burial area towards the Weeping Chamber, accessed through the door (on the left). The Burial area has now been separated from the Weeping Chamber by railings. It was a rich man's Weeping Chamber. A rich man would always have a large room for his mourners. From there you have to turn TO THE RIGHT to look at the graves.



So one enters the Tomb via the Weeping Chamber on the left (position 2) from where it is possible to descend slightly into the Burial Chamber on the right. Here are found 3 burial niches (in positions 5,8,7) only one of which was completed by the original workmen, thus indicating that it would have been a "new" Tomb when Jesus was buried there, just as the Bible states. 


*The Arrival of the Second Group of women led by Joanna: It is Luke (who tells the story from Joanna’s viewpoint), who describes the arrival of the 2nd Group of women at the Tomb. They had come from Herod’s Palace, and arrived just after the others had left in a hurry, after their encounter with the angel.

Luke 24:1,2: “Now on the 1st day of the week (Sunday), very early in the morning, they (the women described in Luke 23:55,56), and certain other women with them (under Joanna’s leadership), came to the Tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the Stone rolled away from the Tomb.”

Luke 24:3,4: “Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men (angels) STOOD by them (in the Weeping Chamber) in shining garments.” This shows that there was a large Weeping Chamber in this Tomb, with enough standing room for the women and two angels, just as with the Garden Tomb.

Only one angel appeared to the first Group of women, and he was sitting by the Place where Jesus was laid. However, two angels appeared to the second Group of women, and they were standing by them in the Weeping Chamber. But this is no contradiction, because Luke is describing a different angelic encounter to a different Group of women, than that described by Matthew and Mark.

Luke 24:5-8: “Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the 3rd day rise again.” And they remembered His words.” 

Luke 24:9: “Then they returned from the Tomb and told all these things to the 11 and to all the rest.” They added their witness to the witness of the other women, who had gone ahead of them. 

Luke 24:10,11 gives us a Summary Statement of the Groups of Women who bore witness to the Empty Tomb. Initially there were 2 Groups, but when Mary Magdalene went off on her own, that formed 3 Groups, bringing 3 separate witnesses to the Disciples:

“It was (1) Mary Magdalene, (2) Joanna, (3) Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the Apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.”

*Meanwhile, Peter and John were running to the Tomb in response to Mary Magdalene’s claim that someone had removed the body. She was the first to tell them about the Empty Tomb (John 20:2) 

John 20:3-5: “PETER therefore went out, and the other disciple (JOHN), and were going to the Tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the Tomb first. And he, STOOPING DOWN and LOOKING in, SAW the LINEN CLOTHS lying there; yet he did not go in.” 

First of all, notice that they had to STOOP DOWN, in order to look into the Tomb. Looking at the Tomb today, you may wonder why he had to bend down, with a tall entrance like that.



Firstly, the original height of the doorway was probably at least a third less than it is today (maybe 4-5 feet, rather than 6 feet high). Over the centuries, it was no doubt enlarged to allow ease of access. In fact, there are clear signs of later chiselling used to make it higher. However, the width of the door has not been changed.

Secondly, the Tomb may well have been set a few feet below ground level, in accordance with Jewish custom, so that you had to climb down to enter in, just as with Herod’s Family Tomb (see page 126). This meant the window cut into the rock-face (to the right and above the door) would have also been useful for viewing inside.


John 20:5 says John STOOPED DOWN, LOOKED in, and SAW the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 

Luke 24:12 tells us that Peter also did the same soon after: 
“But Peter arose and ran to the Tomb; and STOOPING DOWN, he SAW the LINEN CLOTHS lying by themselves; and he departed, marvelling to himself at what had happened.”This detail gives more wonderful confirmation of the Garden Tomb. Both men were able to see the spot where Jesus was buried from the Entrance, and see the detail of His linen clothes. Unlike most Tombs, this description fits the Garden Tomb perfectly. First of all, from the Door there is a clear line of sight to a burial niche, which is unusual for a Tomb. It is the one in the northeast (far right) corner. This is the only burial niche visible from the door. Therefore, this where Christ must have been buried.

Even so, it still seems to be impossible for them to have seen much inside, when you consider it was very early morning and by standing in the entrance-way, they were blocking any light there was! 

However, if you look at the Garden Tomb (next page), you will see a small window in the upper right-hand face of the Tomb, above the modern block-stone. It was cut into the Rock-Face as an original feature of the Tomb, when it was first built. It is too narrow to be another entrance. This was a nephesh (lit. "soul" hole), through which, by Jewish tradition, the spirit of the dead departed after 3 days in the Tomb. The morning sunlight shining through this window illuminated the Tomb, so that Peter and John could see into what otherwise would have been a dark Tomb. Now, the window is placed in such a way and at such an angle that the morning light would have shone directly onto position 5 (as illustrated opposite), the very position for which they had a clear line of sight from the door, confirming this must have been the Burial Place where Jesus was laid.







So, because of the light shining through the window, as they stood at the door and looked to the right, they would have clearly seen where Christ had been laid. They saw His Graves Cloths lying by themselves where His body had been, but there was no body. They could see the Tomb was empty.


John 20:6-9: “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the Tomb; and he SAW the LINEN CLOTHS lying there and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple (John), who came to the Tomb first, went in also; and he SAW and BELIEVED. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” 

The Tomb was not empty. The grave-clothes were still there in their position as a witness that the Lord Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. He’d passed through the grave-clothes leaving them behind.





Is there any more confirming evidence that this Grave in position 5 that could be seen from the door, and that was directly illuminated by light through the window, was the Burial Place of Christ? Yes! This is the only loculus (above) that has been completed, and specially prepared for someone’s use. At the left end, it has a pillow cut in the rock for the head, but most tellingly, at the right hand end, you can see that was enlarged to the east by further chiselling into the bedrock, to make room for someone’s feet. This means the person buried there was taller than the one for whom it was originally measured and constructed. This enlarged section indicates that NOT the owner, but some other person was laid in this rich man’s Tomb. Thus, this Tomb was NOT used by the person for whom it had been cut out, but BY SOMEONE ELSE, the very situation that is described in the Gospels!



Those who believe in the possibility of the authenticity of the Turin Shroud will be interested to know that the estimated height of the man in the Shroud is 5 foot 11, and that the Garden Tomb Grave was enlarged to contain a man with the height of 5 foot 11! 

It is clear from looking at the other two graves or loculi in positions 7 and 8 (see plan on page 152, and photos on page 123,124) that these were never completed, and so remained unused by the original owner. Thus, there were 3 burial niches, only one of which was completed by the workmen, which is evidence that it would have been a new, unused Tomb when Jesus was buried there. This agrees perfectly with the Bible, which says Jesus was laid in the borrowed Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a new Tomb in which no one else had ever been laid. The Garden Tomb was indeed a new, unused Tomb where only one grave had been prepared for use by the original owner, just as the Bible stipulates. Moreover, the only burial place that was visible from the door and illuminated by the window, is the very same one that had been specially measured and prepared for use!

*Then after Peter and John had departed, Mary Madgelene, who had followed them, remained by herself at the Tomb. 

John 20:11,12: “But Mary stood outside by the Tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the Tomb. And she saw 2 ANGELS in white SITTING, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” 

Notice that, as with Peter and John, Mary was able to look inside from the entrance, and like them, she saw His grave-clothes lying where His body had been. This means that she could see the whole length of His Grave from the doorway. Moreover, we are told that from the entrance she saw 2 angels sitting at each end of the Grave where Jesus had been laid, one at the head and the other at the foot. This sets a very demanding requirement that few Tombs can satisfy and it even tells us what kind of Tomb this was. It eliminates the possibility that it was a Kokhim Tomb (this is explained later). It must have a burial position to the right of (not behind) the Weeping Chamber, which was fully visible from the door (from head to foot). Moreover, there must be seating positions (shelves) at both ends of the Burial Place, and sufficient headroom for two (tall) men to sit. The Picture below shows the view from the Entrance of the Garden Tomb, as you look to the right. This is the view Mary had. You can see how the Garden Tomb perfectly fits the description in the Bible. You can see the sitting positions at both ends of the Burial Place, where the angels would have sat. They could indeed have been seen from the Entrance sitting at the 2 ends of the Burial Place, which also happens to be the only one that had been prepared for use. This confirms our previous deduction about where Jesus was laid.



Kokhim Tomb? With respect to the Burial-Place of Jesus, in the First Century, 2 types of Jewish rock tombs were in use: 

(1) Kokhim Tombs. Most tombs of that time were Kokhim Tombs. Kokhim (see the Picture below) were long narrow parallel shafts (tubes or niches) cut into the rock-walls of the Burial Cave Chamber running at right angles from the walls of a rectangular chamber (3 or 4 side by side). The deceased were placed into these ‘tunnels’. The bodies lay with their feet toward the chamber, and stone pillows for the heads were at the further end. This is the most ancient form of tomb, for the kokhim are found sometimes in part destroyed to enlarge the tomb on a different system. It should be obvious: Christ’s Tomb could NOT possibly be a Kokhim Tomb!




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